BLACKFOOT — About 50 people in opposition to windmills picketed the Bingham County Courthouse Friday afternoon.
Spokesman Kirk Jolley said, "Our property rights are not being protected; our county commissioners are not listening to us.
"Windmills are destroying our economy," Jolley said. "One of the reasons power rates are going up is because of the cost power companies must pay for energy produced by windmills or other alternative energy sources."
As of Jan. 1, Rocky Mountain Power increased its rates. The average rate of increase for irrigation is 2.9 percent; the commercial rate increased 4.5 percent and the net (average) residential increase was 5.5 percent.
"This affects everyone in the Snake River Valley," Jolley said.
Jolley was concerned about the distance ice could be thrown from the blades and the fall distance on other people's property.
"Once again the burden of proof is on the landowner," Jolley said. "We must disprove what has not yet been proven.
"We have the greatest to lose—our way of life," said Jolley.
People walking the picket line said the following:
° "We are here to tell the commissioners that we need an ordinance to develop industry for energy or anything: this can't be done on a special use permit," said Bob Reid. "The commissioners were elected to represent us; we are not being properly represented."
° "The companies who profit greatly from the wind turbines purposely target counties such as ours that are cash-strapped and have little understanding of the long-term effects of their proposals, and few, if any, ordinances or plans in place to deal with the proposed developments," Bruce Jolley said.
"Companies erecting wind farms do so in order to take advantage of federal and state tax incentives," Bruce said. "Tax breaks—not environmental or energy benefits— have become the principal reason for building 'wind farms.'"
° "The commissioners must follow the special use permit guidelines," one lady who refused to give her name said. "These guidelines are 10.3.4 and 10.3.3."
° "People need to find out for themselves and look into this completely," said Tauna Christensen. One site she recommends is EnergyPresentation.info.
Planning and Zoning commissioners will hear testimony about the special use permit requested by Blue Ribbon Energy LLC for phase II. Blue Ribbon is asking to build nine wind turbines in the Presto Bench area.
Last month, Bingham County commissioners reversed the P&Z commissioners' decision and approved phase I of the Blue Ribbon project. In phase I, Blue Ribbon will build 27 wind turbines in the Goshen Bench area.